Dylan Covey was picked in the poll to be the next draft prospect. Before I started to read the scouting reports about Covey I wasn't that impressed, even though I had seen reports of Billy Beane personally going to scout his starts. After getting a more in dept look at Dylan Covey, he has risen on my personal board. Lets look at what he has to offer.
The A's have been scouting Covey heavily. Frank Pillere is a former scout for the Texas Rangers and now writes for Fanhouse.com and said this in his recent mock draft:
10. Athletics | Dylan Covey (RHP) | Maranatha H.S. (Pasadena, Calif.)
Billy Beane recently scouted Covey and saw him in one of his worst performances. Coming off that outing, the A's scouting staff has been back in force to see more of him. So, they were not discouraged. They like Covey's polish compared to most high school arms, as well as his consistency and track record. There's not a natural college arm for them to pick here, and Covey's upside and polish could be a nice substitute.
Covey is widely assumed to be the prep arm that interests Beane the most (assuming that Taillon goes in the top 3 like he should), and many speculate that he is the only realistically available prep pitcher that the A's could pop with the 10th pick.
What has caused this interest? Lets look at some video
Basically, what the videos show is a fairly clean motion that adds some deception as he hides the ball behind his back. His head tug can cause him to open up a bit, but every pitcher has something like that and it appears most often when he is reaching back to hit 95 than when he is sitting in the low 90s. Covey also seems to get better as he gets deeper in games maintaining his velocity but improving his control as his arm and back loosen up, showing the potential for some minor in game adjustments. The video also shows that he uses the same arm slot for all of his pitches and there isn't a noticeable deceleration of his arm when throwing breaking balls, which is key. If you look at his frame, hes a big strong kid, though he isn't the 6'6" monster that scouts love to dream about at 6'2" or 3". That may mean that he can add a little strength to his legs and upper body but also that he will have to be careful to maintain his conditioning with his broad body.
Lets look at the individual pitches. Covey's calling card is his hammer power curveball, one of two varieties of the pitch that he throws. Scouting Covey last fall Nick James at PNR Scouting had this to say about the curve:
Curveball - Covey has one of the best curveballs in the draft, showing hard late bite and plus depth with true 12-6 action. I had him 83-86 mph with the pitch with some inconsistency in the shape, though all I've read indicates he's generally more consistent with the breaking ball. He gets tight spin and can throw for a strike or bury as a chase pitch. Will improve command as he continues to refine and improve upon hitting his release point consistently.
Covey has excellent current stuff, with a fastball and curveball that, while unrefined, could potentially get out Major League hitters now with more consistent command
All indications are that Covey has done just that this season and his curveball could be a MLB out pitch right now. John Kilma at Baseballbeginnings,com lives in Covey's back yard and has this to say about the curve:
That Covey’s breaking ball has more power than Tago’s deep in a game should say something, because most scouts love Tago more than they love their wives and girlfriends.
When you project Covey with more upper body strength and power, as an adult in his late 20s and early 30s, you’re talking about a guy with the potential to have the best breaking ball in the big leagues.
His fastball is his next best pitch toping out at 95 but usually sitting 92-93. It has some movement armside, and would also be a MLB average pitch right now, though at times he can lose control of it and fall back on his power curve. When hes on he has good placement of his heater.
Beyond the power curve Covey throws a slower bigger breaking variety in the 70s that he commands well and will use in HS games as almost a change up (most HS pitchers don't throw a lot change ups in game because they are so over powering with their fastballs that throwing a change up would let inferior players catch up to their stuff almost by accident) which also has some potential to be an effective pitch moving forward, Kilma especially thinks that it can be above average. He does have a change up that sits 82-83 (getting the crucial 10 mph differential between change and fast ball) that he was throwing in games in front of scouts. While James was concerned about his arm action, that seems to been improved since last fall as well creating much better deception.
James' grading on the 20-80 scouting scale:
GRADING OUT (FUTURE):
Motion: 40 (50)
Fastball: 55 (55/60)
Curveball: 55/60 (65/70)
Change: 40 (45/50)
Control: 40 (50/55)
Command: 40 (50)
Overall Future Potential (OFP): 70
These grades are on the 20-80 scouting scale where 50 is MLB average. Both James and Kilma see an above average starter out of Covey. While James sees a strong 3, Kilma sees an ace starter and potential all star.
There were concerns briefly that Covey's stuff had slipped, bringing a lot more scouts to the park from teams that it would be unlikely that he would fall to, but it appears that that was just some dead arm, as he maintained his fastball velocity while losing a bit of power on the curve which is a good sign, that many healthy pitchers experience. If the college arms go as many mocks are suggesting there won't really be a natural college arm to pick. Covey has a great combination of MLB usable now stuff for a high school player even if he doesn't have the blow people away with future 98 stuff like many of the HS pitching prospects that folks dream upon. While that does mitigate some of the development pressure on a HS arm like Covey, it surely doesn't eliminate the risk of the injury nexus for high school pitchers (where between 18 and 21 pitchers break a lot more frequently) especially when he hasn't been put through the rigors of college ball . I like that Covey has seemed to improve and that he is throwing four pitches with some success right now. In my book where the A's went wrong with James Simmons is that he only had two pitches and command. I am a firm believer that being a starting pitcher in the MLB requires at least three pitches that are legitimate MLB offerings. I think Covey can be an excellent front end starter and with his fastball/double barrel curveball combo and baring injury has the kind of floor you don't usually see out of a high school arm. Right now Covey would be my pick at 10 if someone that I don't think will be there doesn't fall.